Species Account

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Summary Data

Season (Adult / Immature):

National Status: Na

Local Status: Rare and very local resident.

Local Record: Grade 4   See here for explanation

Flight time: One generation, May-Jul.

Forewing: 12-13mm.

Foodplant: Field Bindweed.

IMPORTANT - Please note that the maps and accounts are provisional, subject to change and further update.  The whole dataset still needs to go through the final verification process and it is likely that a very small number of records will not satisfy the present requirements and there are other records that have not been formally submitted.  The information is for guidance only.

Record breakdown:

Year first recorded18971897
Year last recorded20102010
Number of records80160
Number of individuals6171234
Unique positions2958
Unique locations2244
Adult records73146
Immature records00

For the region, we have a total of 160 records from 44 sites. Earliest record on file is in 1897.


2465 Four-spotted 02
© Debra Saunders
2465 Four-spotted 01
© Martin Cade, 27 Jun 2012

Species Account

For further information refer UK Moths.

Davey, P., 2009: A declining species, now rare in south-east England, the larva feeding on field bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis). In Dorset, the moth used to colonise flowery meadows very locally on dry chalky soils both inland and on the coast. From the late 1930s, inland observations ceased, and colonies on the Purbeck coast and on Portland were all that remained. From 1950, a further contraction occurred and the Purbeck colonies disappeared leaving Portland as the sole refuge still to be colonised. This county-wide decline was mirrored across much of southern England during the last century, and today, Dorset, Suffolk and Nottinghamshire are the only counties where the moth is still regularly recorded. A primary reason for the decline is likely to be loss of unimproved grassland and arable on dry, chalky soils, and in particular land that was subject to occasional disturbance or low impact grazing. Old farming techniques created conditions where "weeds" such as field bindweed were able to grow within the crop and among herb-rich corridors around the periphery of individual field compartments. The species appears to be mainly univoltine with adults on the wing between late June and mid-August, but occasionally a partial first generation emerges in late May and early June, but numbers tend to be small.

The Dorset County Council owned and managed Durlston Country Park contain a series of field systems that are being sympathetically grazed to promote herb-rich habitat on chalky soil and field bindweed is abundant within many of the plots. The moth was frequent at Durlston more than fifty years ago, and the 2003 and 2004 records below suggest re-colonisation of the area. However, the corresponding dates coincide with major immigrant influxes from continental Europe, and further research is required to establish the presence of colonies. It is recommended that Dorset County Council include Four-spotted habitat preferences in their management plans at Durlston. All Purbeck records follow: Lulworth, (Reverend G Green), (O Pickard Cambridge), Chapman's Pool, on 2 August 1929 (C Granville-Clutterbuck), Knowle Hill, disturbed and boxed on the edge of the cart-track leading from the foot of the hill to Norden Farm on 29 June 1897 (Reverend E Bankes), Winspit, at light on 28 July 1935 (A Russell), Herston, at MV in July 2003 (W Teagle), Swanage, in 1899 (S Kemp), four disturbed whilst crossing a field where clover hay had just been carried on 2 July 1906 (Reverend E Bankes), Scar Bank, at light on 20 June 1933, 6 July 1933, 8 August 1934, two on 9 August 1936, 4 August 1938, 28 July 1948, 24 July 1949 (A Russell), Ballard Down, (W Parkinson Curtis), Townsend Reserve, visiting flowers of bindweed on 17 August 2004 (R Cox), Durlston, not uncommonly (A Russell), at MV on 8 August 2003 (J McGill).

The Kingston Lacy Estate, owned and managed by the National Trust contains Badbury Rings, an ancient hill fort surrounded by grassland on chalky soil. The site used to contain unimproved grassland before much of it was improved. Although a single recent example was trapped close to Badbury Rings: Shapwick, at MV on 29 July 2004 (P Davey), the night in question yielded a rash of immigrant species across the county. It is recommended that the National Trust explicitly reference this species in their management plans for the site: Badbury Rings, one (W Parkinson Curtis), by day on 19 June 1931 (H Andrewes, Dr H King). The National Trust also manages Hod Hill where the moth was recorded nearly one hundred years ago. The site is heavily grazed and a pale shadow of its former self but with sympathetic grazing, provide suitable habitat once more: Hod Hill, on 6 August 1919 (A Hayward).

Two moths appeared in the vicinity of Lulworth in 1995. 1995 was a bumper year for the species on Portland; in excess of two hundred and fifty examples were trapped on Portland alone. These Lulworth moths may have dispersed from Portland, but equally they may have originated from France as a notable immigration was underway at the time: Lulworth, at MV on 27 July 1995 (Dr P Sterling), Gad Cliff, by day on 29 July 1995 (N and Mrs B Cape).The remaining Dorset records are as follows: Abbotsbury, disturbed from behind the pebble ridge on 29 May 1936 (H Andrewes), Chamberlaynes, at light on 24 June 1935, 24 July 1935 (H Andrewes), Boscombe, (Fassnidge).

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